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close this bookPrevention of Drug Abuse through Education and Information: An Interdiscplinary Responsibility Within the Context of Human Development (EC - UNESCO, 1994, 26 p.)
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View the documentPeers as agents of prevention
View the documentFear as a tool of dissuasion
View the documentAffective education

Peers as agents of prevention

A basic principle of information transmission is that the person receiving the information always deciphers it in accordance with who is transmitting it. Many studies have shown that the credibility and the charisma of the transmitting source is an essential quality from the point of view of the receiver. The more credible a source of information - in other words, the greater the competence and credibility attributed to the transmitter by the receiver - the greater the appeal of this source to the receiver. The more impartial the transmitter, the greater the chance of the message producing the desired effect. Generally speaking, young people do not accord great credibility to adults, nor do they always consider them to be impartial. For this reason, young people would appear to be better than adults at transmitting drug abuse prevention messages to their peers.

Using peers as advisers, educators and tutors is not a new concept in pedagogy. In drug abuse prevention - smoking in particular - adolescents have frequently and effectively contributed as educators and communicators (Klepp et al). When peers become agents of drug abuse prevention they serve as influential models by parading their non-consumption. Moreover, in so doing they make it clear that taking drugs is not the norm for young people (nor for other social groups), but on the contrary deviant behaviour. Peers working as educators strengthen the idea of social responsibility and the value of health, transmitting social skills which enable their peers to modify their behaviour in order to resist social pressure which might push them to experiment with drugs.